How did you become involved in rodeo and rodeo queen pageants?
I grew up with a 4-H background. I’m a first-generation cowgirl and had no idea what a rodeo queen was. As a small child I would attend the Dayton Championship Rodeo and I noticed the rodeo queens and enjoyed watching the barrel racers, but had no idea how I could get involved. I like to say that rodeo found me. I attended a Queens in Jeans workshop that was put on by the Miss Rodeo Iowa organization in the spring of 2018 and it opened up a whole new world for me. It’s quite comical thinking back to those times. I remember seeing Miss Rodeo Wyoming, Morgan Wallace’s sponsored truck and thinking what did I get myself into. I was determined and took the skills I learned and entered my first pageant just a few months later. I ended up winning first runner up and a month later ran for my second title. I won my very first title at the age of 24. I loved being a rodeo queen and at the very last minute I ran for Miss Rodeo Iowa in September of 2018 and was 1st runner up.
Why did you decide to run for Miss Rodeo Iowa?
To be Miss Rodeo Iowa was a new found dream that I had. I had watched several previous Miss Rodeo Iowa’s starting with Logan Kinyon, Miss Rodeo Iowa 2017. I really didn’t know much about it and didn’t think I could ever be Miss Rodeo Iowa. When I entered my first pageant in 2018, my current National Director, Jordanne Fry was one of the judges and Shelby Chapman, Miss Rodeo Iowa 2016 really was the one that planted the seed in my brain and encouraged me to run. Being a rodeo queen is about being an ambassador for the sport of rodeo, but it’s so much more to me. It’s about making a difference in the lives of others; other rodeo queens, rodeo committees, stock contractors, host families. I’ve always loved horses and what the job title entailed. To be Miss Rodeo Iowa was really a last-minute decision, but I knew that time was running out for me due to my age and I didn’t want to have that regret later in my life. I am so glad things worked out the way they did and of course, I wish I could have started at a younger age, but I’m so grateful and blessed to be in the boots I’m in today. What has been your favorite appearance so far this year?
My year has been greatly affected by Covid-19, so making appearances has been hard. It’s really hard to pick just one appearance. I’ll give you my top three. The first one was my trip to Kissimmee, Florida for the 144th Silver Spurs Rodeo. I was able to hang out with my new sash sisters and they kept us busy. We went on school visits, attended the rodeo, traveled to see the ocean and picked blueberries. That was my first time in Florida and I got to spend my birthday there. One school sang “Happy Birthday” to me, a trip Ill never forget. I also really enjoyed the Day’s of 76’ rodeo in Deadwood, South Dakota. Mackenzi Gatzke did an amazing job at coordinating visiting royalty and setting up horses for us. And the last of my top three was my trip to Guymon, Oklahoma for the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo. The Stonecipher’s graciously opened their home for the girls. Ken Stonecipher is one of the announcers and really appreciates us being there. He is also a great cook, he made me waffles for breakfast on my departure. One of the sweetest gals you will meet is Becky Robinson, she coordinates the visiting royalty in Guymon. How would it feel to be the first Miss Rodeo American crowned from Iowa?
It would be amazing! I would be speechless and it’s very difficult to describe how it would feel to be the first Miss Rodeo America from Iowa. I would be so honored to represent the sport of rodeo from its contestants to the sponsors. There is a long line of cowgirls who have been more than capable to full-fill the position of Miss Rodeo America and to be selected for the position would be life changing. Every day I imagine myself up there in the top 5 so we’ll see what the good Lord has in store for me.
What appearance are you most looking forward to this year?
I have several on my list. A lot of the Iowa rodeos that I should have attended in 2020 got cancelled so I’m looking forward to those this year. They include Edgewood PRCA Rodeo, Cherokee PRCA Rodeo, Sidney Championship Rodeo, Dayton Championship Rodeo and the Tri-State Rodeo in Fort Madison. I know time will go fast as 2020 seemed to fly by even with the pandemic. I wish things would slow down just a bit and its only the first of the year. The Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyoming is probably near the top of my list, you can’t beat flying down the middle of the track. How has COVID impacted your travels?
It has greatly affected my year. 2020 has been such a roller coaster of emotions I can assure you for so many inside and outside of the rodeo industry. It’s been very similar to a thriller movie and I’ve found myself at the bottom of several ice cream containers. Jokes aside it also has some very positive things. I’ve been able to do interviews with various contestants, previous titleholders and sponsors. I have shared them on my social media page on Facebook: Brittany Gunn – Miss Rodeo Iowa 2020. This is something that I have been very proud of. I’m not entirely sure of the audiences it has reached but one of my favorite parts is I usually ask the interviewee what advice they have for the future generation of rodeo. Their comments have been tremendous and I’ll always have them to remember for any future goals I may have after I’m done being a rodeo queen.
What is something you’ve already learned while being Miss rodeo Iowa that you didn’t know before you held the title?
Something that I’ve learned is that it’s a lot more work than one can make it appear to seem. Looking on the outside you might see a girl with a pretty smile, the perfect hair, flawless makeup, and beautiful wardrobe, but it takes a lot of hard work, grit and determination. It’s about a journey of growth and you learn a vast amount of skills that you take with you throughout your life. Did you attend the Miss Rodeo America pageant as Miss rodeo Iowa lady in waiting? If so do you think the inside look at the pageant will better help you prepare? What was that experience like?
I vividly remember going to the Miss Rodeo America pageant in 2019 and thinking what did I get myself into? And how am I going to get up on that stage and answer those questions like those girls can? I remember I was at the President’s Welcome Reception where the girls answer a current event question and there was a film crew there filming for the Rodeo Queen show. I was select to be interviewed. I remember feeling like such a deer in the headlights as it was hard for me to find my words, but I loved every minute of it. Attending the pageant and watching it through the lens of the new Rodeo Queen Show will not only help me prepare for the pageant but help me calm my nerves when it gets here. If you ever get to attend the pageant I highly recommend the fashion show. That was by far my favorite part of the pageant. What is your biggest piece of advice to someone starting out in the rodeo queen industry?
Always follow your dreams. Never let the challenges you may face get in the way of you accomplishing your dreams. There will be titles you run for that you won’t win, and that’s okay, but don’t let that deter you from what you want to do. Your success lies in your hands. If you don’t succeed you try, try and try again. As a rodeo queen, be confident in yourself and skills. I know it can be easy to play the comparison game, but there is no need for that. You’re perfect just the way you are! Find a queen or someone in the industry you can look up to and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you want practice reach out to a pageant and ask to exhibition. A former Miss Rodeo Iowa lost her son many years ago who loved rodeo. She shares her son’s wisdom with contestants that compete in the Miss Rodeo Iowa pageant and as the current Miss Rodeo Iowa it’s something that speaks to my heart: Go with a little bit of luck, a whole lot of faith, use your whole heart and always believe.